Review of: Arabicpod101
Use: Study the Arabic language through podcast lessons and use digital flashcards, personal word lists, notes, and other study helps.
Engaging podcasts help you learn words in context. But you'll have to practice speaking on your own
Free content and monthly plans at $4 to $47 per month
Each podcast is around 15 minutes long.
Ease of Use
Digital immersion without the tedious work
Podcasts are sorted by level of difficulty and subject.
- Over 1,200 podcast lessons
- Free content and affordable price
- Lessons are fun and interesting
- Built in flashcard system
I Don't Like
- No speaking required
- Limited community features
Summary: Arabicpod101 offers primarily audio podcast lessons. The lessons are sorted by difficulty and you are free to follow the course format or start with any lesson or difficulty you chose.
The monthly price for Arabicpod101 starts at $4 per month and goes up to $47 , depending on which subscription level you choose. The higher the price of the subscription the more features the site offers. Typically the lower levels are a better purchase ( at least in my opinion).
While the 101 language learning sites are usually good courses that we recommend pretty often, Arabicpod101 misses the mark. As a whole the lessons seemed a little thrown together. There are different teachers and some are better than others.
The biggest problem is that Arabicpod101 includes 3 dialects of Arabic (Modern Standard, Moroccan & Egyptian) but doesn’t tell you which lesson uses which dialect. There’s a considerable difference between each dialect.
Not being able to tell which lessons is in which dialect is a big problem for beginners, but more advanced students may find it less of an issue (but it’s still annoying).
You can access Arabicpod101 on the main site on through their mobile app. They offer a free limited access account along with a 7 day full access trial. You can test the site out before you buy it to see if it’s the course that’s right for you.
Subscription plans starting at $4 per month (Free plan available too)
Is Arabicpod101 right for you?
Even though most of the content on Arabicpod101 is for beginners we don’t recommend it unless you have some experience with Arabic. The episodes feature 3 different dialects of Arabic (Modern Standard, Moroccan & Egyptian), and there’s no way to tell which lesson deals with which dialect. This could be frustrating for a new student because there’s a significant difference between each one.
Arabicpod101 is best used by intermediate students who are at least somewhat familiar with the difference in dialects. Advanced students may not get as much out of the site because the majority of the lessons are for beginners.
If you are learning Modern Standard, Moroccan, or Egyptian Arabic then Arabicpod101 can be a good way to develop your listening skills. Courses for Moroccan Arabic can be especially hard to find so there is some real value if you’re learning that dialect.
The site also has a mobile app which allows you to listen to lessons on your phone. If you want a way to study Arabic from your phone then you may want to check it the Arabicpod101.
Podcast episodes are fixed around an Arabic dialogue between two native speakers. The conversation usually includes the use of a specific piece of grammar, a useful Arabic phrase, or a cultural topic. Each episode can run from 5 to 15+ minutes (typically) and is introduced by two hosts who also explain the lesson.
Real world situations
The Arabic dialogues are always centered around a scenario that could happen in the real world. It may be two friends chatting in the car or a couple walking in the street. This helps keeps the vocabulary relevant, so that you learn Arabic that you can use with real people.
Episodes feel like a podcast
Though some episodes are better than others, generally the hosts of each episode try to keep things interesting by making personal comments, sharing experiences, or making an occasional joke. This keeps the lessons feeling more like a podcast and less like an audio textbook.
Tools & Resources
Arabicpod101 does provide some bonus materials to help you on your Arabic learning journey. Among other tools you can find a dictionary, word lists, grammar charts, and pronunciation helps. Nothing special with these features. It’s cool having them in one place but there also other sites out there who provide similar resources for free.
Three tools that do stand out are Arabicpod101’s Flashcards, playback, and transcript features.
Similar to Anki and Memrise Arabicpod101’s flashcards run off a spaced repetition system. You can build your review deck from any word you come across in the podcast. The decks are easy to make. You can build up a good sized one in a minute or two.
Arabicpod101 allows you to select words from the podcast conversations and play them back at a slower speed. You also playback at regular speed if you want. This is ideal for picking out the intonation and pronunciation of spoken Arabic. It’s also useful if you’re practicing your listening skills.
Arabicpod101 has made full transcripts of their lessons so you can follow along to the conversations or use the transcripts to review later and create your own study tools.
Arabicpod101 comes in 3 monthly subscription plans: basic, premium, and premium plus. The more months you decide to purchase at one time the less you end up paying for each month.
The basic level only includes the podcast episodes. For a single month it costs $8. Per month price goes as low as $4 if you purchase 24 months.
The premium level includes full access to the podcast in addition to the full array of tools and resources. A single month at the premium level is $25. Per month price goes to $10 if you get 24 months.
The premium plus level includes the same content as the previous two subscription levels along with the added help and recommendations from an Arabic tutor. Premium plus is $47 for a single month. Per month price goes down to $22.88 per month if you buy 24 months.
The cheapest subscription gives the most value. Truth be told, you don’t need more than the basic level to improve your Arabic. The added tools in premium are good but only if you plan on using them regularly. The premium plus’ expensive price makes its the least valuable option. For $47 you could purchase a basic subscription and then find a real tutor on Italki.
No separation of dialects
Arabicpod101 has lessons available in 3 dialects of Arabic but doesn’t give any way to let you know which lessons are in which dialects. Given that Arabic dialects can differ dramatically this is a huge problem for the beginning Arabic student and a frustration for other learners.
Inconsistent lesson quality
Some lessons are newer than others and there’s often a clear difference in quality between new and old lessons.
You don’t actually have to speak Arabic
Arabicpod101 is purely an audio course. So like other audio courses you can’t depend on it to meet your need for speaking practice. If you choose to use the podcast make sure you also take time to talk with native Arabic speakers.
Best way to use Arabicpod101
Study & review
Think of Arabicpod101 as an extra tool in your bag of Arabic learning tricks. It can be useful to practice Arabic one episode at a time at a set time everyday. The podcast is also good for practicing throughout the day (in the car, walking, work, etc).
Depending on which dialect you're learning the site can also be useful for pronunciation and listening practice. Try following along to a dialogue with the transcripts and then without. Also try playing back each Arabic word slowly and mimic what you hear.
Alternatives to Arabicpod101
20+ minutes a day
Rocket Arabic teaches Egyptian Arabic. It's built around recorded audio in the form of dialogues. The dialogues have English explanations and usually teach the language in "chunks" or phrases versus individual words (this is great for conversational Arabic).
Overall the course is nicely comprehensive and very well structured (more than Arabicpod101). The Arabic it teaches feels natural and useful in real life conversations.
There are also components on reading and even some videos that show you how to write the Arabic script. The course also features a heavy emphasis on pronunciation.
20+ minutes a day
Pimsleur is a completely audio based course. Their courses use a question-recall-response to help develop listening and speaking skills. The courses heavily emphasis pronunciation and break down words and phrases syllable by syllable. The vocabulary taught with Pimsleur is usually formal but practical.
Pimsleur offers courses for Egyptian, Eastern, and Modern Standard Arabic. While they don't offer much help with reading and zero with writing, Pimsleur's Arabic course are a good resource for beginners learning to speak Arabic.
Arabicpod101 is close to being a great tool for learning Arabic. Unfortunately its lessons differ widely in quality and don’t distinguish between the 3 Arabic dialects used in the lessons. Beginners in Arabic should probably look elsewhere. Intermediate students may still find the site useful for grammar, accent reduction, and vocabulary.
At the basic subscription level Arabic isn’t a horrible deal, even with its flaws. The site has a one week free trial offer (you don’t need a credit card). Best to use the site for a little while and see if you like it before buying.